Facts About Dalit Women

The impact of the discrimination that Dalit women face cannot easily be quantified, because it is often expressed through the thousands of indignities, both large and small, that Dalit women face in their lifetimes. But the effects of very old and very common discrimination can be seen through some indicators on poverty, education, health and violence.


“Officially, Dalits make up 13.6% of Nepal’s population; but some estimates suggest the true number could be more than 20%.”


Discrimination against Dalits and women means fewer opportunities, less power, and worse treatment.
Poverty rates among Dalits are double the national average.
Dalit women are the poorest of all women of any caste.
56% of Dalit women are in the lowest 2 wealth quintiles.
80% of Dalit women live below the poverty line.


Mistreatment, poverty and devaluation of girls mean that few Dalit girls get a proper education.
56% of Dalit women are completely unable read, sign their names, or read numbers.
Only 3.9% of Dalit women have a high school diploma.
Less than 1% of Dalit women have earned a Bachelor’s degree, the lowest of all castes.
More than 60% of Dalit girls are married before the age of 16.


A combination of poverty, a lack of education and discrimination means that Dalit women have some of the worst health indicators in Nepal.
Dalit children have the highest rates of malnourishment in Nepal.
31% of Dalit women are unable to access family planning.
Dalits are the least likely to have access to a private latrine.
30% of Dalits have no access to improved drinking water.


Poverty, gender and caste make Dalit women vulnerable to violence both at home and outside.
60% of Dalit women experience family or other gender-based violence; 48% of Dalits say their complaints are ignored by prejudiced police officers.
23% of all Nepali women and 22% of men agree that a husband beating his wife is acceptable in at least some situations.
Dalit women and girls are nearly twice as likely to be raped than other castes – and far more likely to be murdered.
An estimated 40,000 Dalit girls are trafficked to Indian brothels each year; many more engage in domestic prostitution.